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Pasolini 101 - Criterion Collection

Pasolini 101 - Criterion Collection front cover
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Plot Sypnosis:


One of the most original and controversial thinkers of the twentieth century, Italian polymath Pier Paolo Pasolini embodied a multitude of often seemingly contradictory ideologies and identities—and he expressed them all in his provocative, lyrical, and indelible films. Relentlessly concerned with society’s downtrodden and marginalized, he elevated pimps, hustlers, sex workers, and vagabonds to the realm of saints, while depicting actual saints with a radical earthiness. Traversing the sacred and the profane, the ancient and the modern, the mythic and the personal, the nine uncompromising, often scandal-inciting features he made in the 1960s still stand—on this, the 101st anniversary of his birth—as a monument to his daring vision of cinema as a form of resistance.


  • New 4K digital restorations of seven films and 2K digital restorations of Teorema and Medea, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks 
  • Two shorts made by director Pier Paolo Pasolini for anthology films: La ricotta (1963) and The Sequence of the Paper Flower (1969) 
  • Two documentaries made by Pasolini during his travels
  • New program on Pasolini’s visual style as told through his personal writing, narrated by actor Tilda Swinton and writer Rachel Kushner
  • Audio commentaries on Accattone and Teorema
  • Documentaries on Pasolini’s life and career featuring archival interviews with the director and his close collaborators
  • Episode from 1966 of the French television program Cinéastes de notre temps
  • Interviews with filmmakers and scholars
  • Trailers
  • New English subtitle translations
  • PLUS: Deluxe packaging, including a 100-page book featuring an essay and notes on the films by critic James Quandt, and writings and drawings by Pasolini



ISBN 979-8-88607-038-5

UPC 7-15515-28441-7



Poet and painter turned filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini courted controversy with his very first feature by using Catholic iconography and liturgical music to render a plaintive, brutally beautiful portrait of a shiftless Roman pimp and thief (then-nonprofessional Franco Citti, in a revelatory performance) whose life of petty crime turns increasingly desperate when the woman who supports him is imprisoned. Melding a hardscrabble neorealist milieu with classical influences, Pasolini offers a vision of underclass struggle as a kind of modern sainthood.

1961 • 117 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Italian with English subtitles • 1.37:1 aspect ratio


Anna Magnani is Mamma Roma, a middle-aged prostitute who attempts to extricate herself from her sordid past for the sake of her son. Highlighting director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s lifelong fascination with the marginalized and dispossessed, Mamma Roma offers an unflinching, neorealistic look at the struggle for survival in postwar Italy. Though initially banned in the country for obscenity, today the film remains a classic, featuring a powerhouse performance by one of cinema’s greatest actors and offering a glimpse at Pasolini in the process of finding his style.

1962 • 106 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Italian with English subtitles • 1.85:1 aspect ratio


Let’s talk about sex. In this radically engaged and engaging documentary, Pier Paolo Pasolini takes to the streets, town squares, beaches, factories, and universities of 1960s Italy to solicit everyday citizens’ thoughts on a host of hot-button subjects, including sex work, gender equality, homosexuality, and divorce (then illegal in Italy). What emerges is both a kaleidoscopic cross section of faces and places—from the industrialized cities of the North to the rural villages of the South—and an incisive portrait of a society where, despite the rapid modernization brought on by the postwar “economic miracle,” hypocrisy, repression, and conformism still hold sway.

1964 • 92 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Italian with English subtitles • 1.85:1 aspect ratio


A biblical epic that only the Marxist dissident Pier Paolo Pasolini could make, this intensely faithful adaptation of Saint Matthew’s Gospel depicts the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (Enrique Irazoqui, a Spanish economics student and Communist activist), whose unwavering compassion for the poor and defiant condemnation of moral hypocrisy make him a perhaps unexpected embodiment of the director’s own worldview. Stunningly shot amid the timeless landscapes of southern Italy and set to a soundtrack that encompasses everything from Bach to Black spirituals, The Gospel According to Matthew cuts past dogma and straight to the core of Jesus’s radical humanism.

1964 • 137 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Italian with English subtitles • 1.85:1 aspect ratio


While wandering the countryside, a pair of father-and-son vagabonds (played respectively by Italian cinema legend Totò, in his final major film role, and Ninetto Davoli) happen upon a talking crow who spouts philosophy and launches them on a freewheeling picaresque through time, space, and the margins of a rapidly modernizing Italy. A comic Marxist fable that balances heady ideas about religion, poverty, and class struggle with irreverent slapstick sight gags, The Hawks and the Sparrows finds Pasolini at his lightest yet as stingingly subversive as ever.

1966 • 89 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Italian with English subtitles • 1.85:1 aspect ratio 


Pier Paolo Pasolini’s powerfully iconoclastic take on Sophocles’s tragedy blends eras and cultures to create a searing exploration of fate, free will, and the things we fear most in ourselves. Shot amid the stark, elemental landscapes of the Moroccan desert, and set in an indefinable ancient past, this bold reimagining casts the filmmaker’s frequent collaborator Franco Citti as the eponymous foundling, whose willful blindness to his own nature unleashes a cataclysmic reckoning. With a prologue and epilogue set in twentieth-century Italy, Pasolini connects the story to his own upbringing, daring to bare his soul on-screen.

1967 • 104 minutes • Color • Monaural • In Italian with English subtitles • 1.85:1 aspect ratio 


With Teorema, a coolly cryptic exploration of bourgeois spiritual emptiness, Pier Paolo Pasolini moved beyond the poetic, proletarian earthiness that first won him renown. Terence Stamp stars as the mysterious stranger—perhaps an angel, perhaps a devil—who, one by one, seduces the members of a wealthy Milanese family (including European cinema icons Silvana Mangano, Massimo Girotti, Laura Betti, and Anne Wiazemsky), precipitating an existential crisis in each of their lives. Unfolding nearly wordlessly, this tantalizing metaphysical riddle—blocked from exhibition by the Catholic Church for degeneracy—is at once a blistering Marxist treatise on sex, religion, and art and a primal scream into the void.

1968 • 98 minutes • Color • Monaural • In Italian with English subtitles • 1.85:1 aspect ratio 


“I killed my father. I ate human flesh. I quiver with joy.” Provocateur Pier Paolo Pasolini is at his most incendiary in this double-edged allegory on fascism, consumerism, and resistance. In one story, a defiant man (Pierre Clémenti) perpetrates increasingly barbaric acts while wandering a mythic, volcanic landscape. In the other, the scion (Jean-Pierre Léaud) of a wealthy, ex-Nazi industrial family conceals a shocking proclivity. Taken together, these stories of transgression form a scathing commentary on postwar European moral rot and the meaning of rebellion in the face of a corrupt world.

1969 • 98 minutes • Color • Monaural • In Italian with English subtitles • 1.85:1 aspect ratio 


In this hypnotic adaptation of Euripides’s immortal tragedy, Pier Paolo Pasolini casts opera diva Maria Callas (utterly arresting in her only film role) as the sorceress of Greek legend, whose separation from her homeland of Colchis and betrayal by her lover, Jason, lead her down a path of shocking vengeance. Melding Western myth with aesthetic and musical influences from numerous world cultures, Pasolini fashions a mesmerizing cinematic pageant that gathers in force until it explodes in rage and a stunningly nihilistic condemnation of injustice.

1969 • 110 minutes • Color • Monaural • In Italian with English subtitles • 1:85:1 aspect ratio

Release Details

Movie Release Year: 1969
Tech Specs & Release Details

Specs: Blu-ray Discs
Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.37:1, 1.85:1
Audio Formats: Italian
Subtitles/Captions: English